Placement Year

In an increasingly competitive job market, completing a year in industry helps you stand out to potential graduate employers. You will have the benefit of having professional work experience on your cv as well as being able to test-drive potential career paths before finishing your degree.

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Overview

Completing a placement year is a great way to get industry experience, allowing you to apply your studies in a professional context.

You'll be able to apply for a placement year if you're on one of the following courses:

You can also pursue a placement if you're studying for a joint honours degree, or a combined course such as PEP or SPS. These are managed centrally by Careers - you can find out more on the current students webpages.

The placement takes place between the second and third years of your degree, and usually last between 9 and 12 months.

You'll need to pursure and secure a placement by yourself, although we'll support you through the process. Placements aren't guaranteed - if you don't manage to secure one, you'll just progress to the third year of your studies as normal.

"Since starting my placement I have been improving my communication skills, networking & getting to know many people in the political sphere. My organisational skills have been honed, I have to keep track of many projects simultaneously. I'm also learning a lot about the details of policy." I have also had my first piece of work for DEMOS published Andrew Gloag BA Politics placement student

Our Placement Coordinator

How we help you: our dedicated Placement Coordinator

The Department of Politics has a full-time dedicated Placement Coordinator, Charlie King, who will help you to prepare you for your year in industry, as well as helping you find a suitable placement.

Charlie can be contacted via email

The department is always available to offer you advice and guidance in the following areas: 

  • how to search for opportunities and approach organisations in the field
  • writing applications and CVs
  • how to prepare for assessment centres and interviews. 

We also provide:

  • Placement Lectures: Which are embedded into students' timetables covering key areas of finding and securing a placement. 
  • Industry led sessions: Spot light careers sessions that are delivered by organisations that recruit politics students. 
  • Keep in touch events: We put on events throughout the year in conjunction with the University's Central Placement programme so that you can meet and network with other students seeking a placement year. 
  • Daily Drop-In Sessions: Where students can arrange one-to-one appointments to discuss any aspect of their placement search with our Placement Coordinator. These include help with placement search, support with CV preparation, application guidance and interview advice and guidance.
  • On Placement Support: We will support you whilst you are on placement. This includes providing a through pre departure process and providing support and visits to you and your employer whilst you are on the placement. 
"Our Politics placement coordinator regularly sent out opportunities that they thought would be of interest as applications opened, and I was also able to have 1-to-1 discussions about how to find and apply for placement opportunities that were not necessarily politics related" Sophie Lycett, BA Politics placement student

Why do a placement year?

The benefits of completing a placement year

The placement provides you with an opportunity to gain experience in either political or non-political related fields while putting your academic learning into practice. You could apply to roles that are related to your degree, such as the House of Commons Placement Scheme or a placement with Yougov, or to a business-related placement in a wide variety of organisations and industries. 

A placement will enable you to develop considerably, both personally and professionally. You'll increase your confidence and gain transferable skills such as:

  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • team-working and independent working skills

You'll also begin to build up a professional network and gain valuable awareness of workplace culture.

As employers place significant emphasis on all of the above in their recruitment, completing a placement year will enable you to boost your employability and have an edge when applying for graduate-level roles. 

"The work I've undertaken throughout my placement so far has enabled me to develop my commercial awareness and interpersonal skills, as well as boosting my professional confidence" Sam Smith, Politics Placement Student BA Politics with International Relations 

Fees

Fees for your year in industry

You'll pay a reduced tuition fee when you're on a year in industry. For more information, visit the University's fees and funding page. 

"The department were amazing. They were supportive and regularly sent current job openings as well as met with me often to see how I was getting on with my search. They made it all seem normal. Like I wasn't about to embark on a huge life-changing experience. I think that was the most important thing for me. Whilst I knew it would be a big thing, I also knew it was the right thing and the university supported me through the whole search and beyond" Scott Milestone BA Politics placement student

Testimonials

Rachael Evans, BA Politics with International Relations (with a year in industry)

Organisation: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

Role: Communications and Government Affairs Assistant for Emerging Markets

I chose to do a placement year to further the employability of my degree and to see what working life is like with the security of still being at university.

In order to find a placement "The Rate my Placement" website was my first point of call. This had loads of placements that you could filter down. I knew that I wanted to do something that overlapped with my degree both in a skill sense and in the political sense. Communications and Government Affairs fit this. GSK is located near my house (and creates my inhalers!) so I knew a bit about the company.

I engaged the career placements officer in the Politics department early in the academic year really helped boost my confidence and confirmed I was on the right track. I had never gone through the process of applying for a serious job so getting resources such as practice game-based aptitude tests, interview questions and assessment day scenarios was particularly useful. 

On a day to day basis being a Communications for Emerging Markets assistant involves working with BRIC countries that have a GSK hub to relay messages from Head office to the LOCs (local operating company). Government affairs for Export Markets is working with the new generation of rising power's governments to ensure that medicine/healthcare is a top priority and mandate.

I have been involved with a number of exciting projects; 

  • Government affairs - showing the British High Commissioner to Kenya how a British business that has an LOC within Kenya operates. Involved showing the work of GSK through a powerpoint and communicating how she can promote British business.
  • Communications - Fast Tracks. These are immediate communications that are sent from any department within GSK to another internal department. I ensure that the text is clear and can be understood by the audience. I then create a distribution list so the correct people from the department read the comms. It then gets sent from a GSK branded website so all can be inline with brand guidelines.

I do a lot more but that's just two very different examples of how my job varies!

Having created a development program with my line manager I know that by the end of the year I want to have increased confidence, experience of working within a team and business acumen. I have clear targets and goals of how to reach this.

I am enjoying the following aspects of my placement:

  1. The fact that it is literally my degree in business form. I get to see my module of Rising Powers play out in an international organisation.
  2. The independence. Very often I am given a project with a criteria but broad guidelines. How I want to achieve the end goal is my responsibility. With this, I am always supported and it is often in a team setting that this will occur.

For any student considering doing a placement, I would say Do one!

It can seem a lot of effort leaving university only to come back a year later... and I personally did feel like this. But now that I've gone through the process and started my placement I really have enjoyed every aspect and I have no regrets. The experience is something that really sets you ahead whilst being enjoyable. More specific advice would be to always be yourself within the interview and assessment days. Having sat in one you can really tell who is putting on a show and who is being honest and themselves.

 

Chris Martin, BA Politics with International Relations (with a year in industry)

Organisation: British Chamber of Commerce EU & Belgium

Role: EU & Brexit Events Officer

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“I chose to pursue a placement as I knew it would be a great way to gain work experience before graduating and looking for a full time job. Working for a full year in an environment is completely different to interning over the summer vacation as you are given more responsibility and are able to work on more long term projects. I found out about the placement through Charlie King, the Placement Coordinator within the Politics department.

As well as advertising the vacancies to the students, Charlie was able to help with my CV content and presentation, assist with completing practise aptitude tests and preparing for interviews.

Since starting my placement I have been involved in several events relating to Brexit and EU policy/legislation. This involves inviting key speakers and members to attend events, as well as contacting journalists and sponsors to increase awareness of the project.

I am enjoying my working environment and improving my time management and communication skills. I have been interacting with a huge number of people at lots of different levels from different companies and countries.

The main advice I would give to potential placement students would be to not give up on completing applications. You may receive lots of rejections, but you only need one company to hire you. It is also important to remember that your skillset may not match one company, but could be greatly valued by another.”

 

Matthew Harrington, BA Politics (with a year in industry)

Organisation: Ofgem

Role: Energy Networks Placement 

Matthew Harrington Placement Pic

"I wanted to do a placement as I had previously completed an internship in an investment consultancy in 2017 and had found this exceptionally rewarding. I was eager to find myself a position in a similar environment that would allow me to further develop the skills I had acquired. Additionally, I was unsure what to do after university and I hoped that a placement year would help provide direction.

Having registered my interest in a placement year with the Department of Politics, the department helped me by providing links to various websites that listed placement opportunities and sent email updates on interesting opportunities that became available. One of these was the Ofgem placement. Once I had secured an interview with Ofgem, I was provided with assistance in my interview preparation.

Since starting my placement, my daily tasks have involved data analysis, policy crafting, report drafting and attending regular team meetings to ensure I am up to date with work developments. I have been involved in three major projects at Ofgem:

  • Distribution Network Operators (DNO) where I was the lead cost analyst for annual spending submissions.
  • Smart Systems Forum; I summarised industry responses to the recent Smart System Flexibility Plan assisting senior civil servants.
  • Data Privacy Plan project (DPP); here I reviewed and gave feedback on submitted plans in order to help direct the development of privacy plans that could be approved by Ofgem.

Since starting my placement I have greatly developed my communication skills, I have delivered presentations to numerous members of staff. I have improved my presentation skills so that I am concise, with a greater focus on the needs of the audience and future outputs. Understanding how to tailor communication within a work environment is key.

I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to work that I believe is of great significance to the country and energy consumers. I have made tangible contributions to projects that are beneficial, not just for Ofgem but for the country at large. I have enjoyed being able to develop a in-depth understanding of the process of policy crafting, far beyond what I suspect I would have been able to achieve through academic study alone. Learning to navigate the internal machinery of project management and office politics has been especially interesting.

My advice to students searching for a placement opportunity is to try to pick an industry that you have a genuine interest in, as finding enjoyment in your work is vital in maintaining a good work ethic throughout your placement. It is important that you take pride in your work and feel valued in the organisation, and much of this will depend on how much you value the type of work you are doing."

 

Emma Sedgley BA Politics with International Relations (with a year in industry) 

Organisation: Sainsburys

Role: Press Office Assistant‌

“I chose to do a placement year to get a head start with my career path. It's also a good opportunity to broaden all of your skills which will be helpful for third year studies such as organisation and important time management.  I wasn't sure where I wanted to live after university, so having a year in London to decide whether I'm suited to the big city lifestyle has been super beneficial.

Charlie King, the department Placement Officer helped me to create a unique and succinct CV which highlighted my key strengths. He also helped by providing practice online tests, which really weren't my strong point.

Since starting my placement I have taken part in so many exciting activities such as our Christmas Press Show. After a month of working at Sainsbury’s I was handed my first project called 'Foodie Finds' in which I created a hamper of products that you wouldn't expect to find at Sainsbury's. Along with a write up about the products, these hampers were sent out to high-profile journalists such as the Chief Food Editor of the Sunday Times and BBC Good Food and also the producer of This Morning with Holly and Phil.

I have become so much better at time management and prioritising tasks in the first four months that I've been on placement. In such a fast-paced environment where journalists are forever sending last minute requests in you have to always be on your toes and ready to adapt to the situation. You learn pretty quickly that if you're not organised that you fall behind and you can't afford to do that when working for a big business.

I've also gained so much confidence since joining Sainsbury's. I remember being so nervous before I made my first professional phone call and email and now it's just second nature.

My advice to potential placement students for the future would be to only apply for something that you truly want to do. Adjusting to the long hours and high intensity of working life is so much easier if you love what you do. Plus employers can definitely tell if you don't have a true excitement for the job.

I'd also say make sure you do in-depth research on each of the companies that you apply for and show this off as well! Don't just look at their website, check the news and other websites about them, even at the cover letter stage. Research their interview style as well. One thing that I found was that all three of my interviews were completely different.”

Real life work example

Andrew Gloag is currently completing a BA in Politics and is working as a research assistant at Demos for his placement year. 

Andrew is interested in political philosophy, especially contemporary theories of justice and how that translates into everyday policy decisions.

Andrew has just had his first piece of work published and the work is garnering a lot of attention over social media.

Andrew's article is called "Protected by Design: New fraud protections for people at risk"

Contact Details

Charlie King

Politics Placement Coordinator

Tel: 01904 323449

Email: c.king@york.ac.uk